Armel Cornu-Atkins: Mid-term PhD Seminar

  • Date: –15:00
  • Location: Seminar through Zoom (ID 657 6951 1495)
  • Website
  • Organiser: Department of History of Science and Ideas
  • Contact person: Sven Widmalm
  • Seminarium

The Higher Seminar

Mid-term PhD seminar för Armel Cornu-Atkins, Uppsala University, and her dissertation Enlightening water, chemical analysis in eighteenth-century France (working title). External reviewer: Jonathan Simon, Claude Bernard University, Lyon 1.

The seminar is held through Zoom. Join using this link, or the meeting ID 657 6951 1495.

Minerals waters were a delicate and unstable product whose value as a remedy increased in early modern France. If it was once the luxury of the nobility travelling to the spa, the eighteenth century slowly watched it turned into a commodity. The waters became widely available in bottles and were sold in dedicated bureaus of distribution. Despite the logistical challenges of selecting and carrying the waters to their new urban public, many different springs made their way into many of France’s cities. As the century was drawing to a close, a unique institution, the Société de Médecine, took on the challenge of regulating this sprawling trade. Backed by state power and staffed with a variety of affluent and sometimes controversial physicians and chemists, this Société eventually settled its authority over the intendancy of mineral waters. Through legislation, scientific connections and a powerful network of correspondants, it created a new status for mineral waters, making them a chemically defined product. In my dissertation, I aim to bring into light this overlooked institution and its essential role in the administration of mineral waters. Though it never eradicated fraud or succeeded in creating a full scientific and economic monopole, it greatly broadened the budding trade of bottled water in France and gave a powerful incentive for chemists to better their mastering of the particularly challenging analysis of water. It therefore deserves a place in the history of the development of analytical chemistry, and represents a rich case study for the investigation into the creation of chemical facts.

Material and discussion in English